Through the first two games of the 2014 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat & San Antonio Spurs have alternated victories.
The Spurs dominated Game 1 going 14-for-16 from the floor in a 36-point fourth quarter as they cruised to a 110-95 victory, but the Heat responded in Game 2, with LeBron James scoring 35 points & getting 10 rebounds, helping the Heat tie the series at 1 as the series heads southeast to Miami.
1) Kickstarting Kawhi Leonard offensively: Leonard has struggled to begin the finals, averaging only nine points per game so far against the Heat. This postseason, Leonard averages 14 points when the Spurs win and 11 points when the Spurs lose. More importantly, his FG% is over 100 points better in postseason wins.
2) Keeping pressure on Miami shooting: if the Spurs can score early and maintain 25+ points each quarter, the pressure falls on their defense to not allow the Heat to make one three-pointer after another, given the fact that James, Dwyane Wade & Chris Bosh each have a FG% over .500.
3) Scoring 100+ points: since the beginning of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Spurs have scored over 100 points in nine of 13 postseason games, and they’ve won all of them.
1) Keeping their composure if they fall behind early: teams that win championships don’t panic if the opposition blows it open early. In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indianapolis Pacers, the Heat were trailing by 15 points late in the first half, but rallied in the second half, outscoring the Pacers 61-45, ultimately leading to a comeback victory. The Heat are tenacious, feisty & they don’t panic.
2) Guarding Tiago Splitter outside the paint: defensively the Heat have to remain on heavy alert when Splitter has the ball in three-point range. This postseason, Splitter makes over half the three-pointers he attempts with a FG% of .598, including four of five three-point shots made in San Antonio’s Game 1 victory. If the game is close late in the fourth quarter and Splitter is in, the Heat cannot let their guard down.
3) Simply playing like champions: the scenario for Game 3 is blatant, the Heat are at home where they are 8-0 this postseason, LeBron is healthy from his Game 1 cramping and Bosh, Wade & Ray Allen are all at full health. It would be surprising if the Heat were to lose two straight home games in the NBA finals.
The Spurs face the Heat tonight at American Airlines Arena in Miami at 9:00 E.T. on ABC.